God Keeps Covenantby Dan Stolebarger Director of Koinonia Institute
Our inaugural Israel II trip was one of the best experiences that I have had.
The vision for the Israel II trip was two-fold in nature. The first was to provide our group with a true insiders briefing as to what the current threats are to Israel today. We provided a speakers list that went beyond our expectations!
The second part of the vision was to provide our pilgrims with an opportunity to put some feet to their faith. There are a plethora of needy and well-deserving ministries in Israel, but how does one know which one to support? We wanted to provide opportunities to support some groups that we are confident are doing some great things. By partnering with them, we can experience part of the return of Genesis 12.
The LORD had said to Abram, Leave your country, your people and your fathers household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. - Genesis 12:1-3
Now I know that this is a very familiar passage, but I have a specific question for you in regards to these verses What are you actually doing in regards to blessing Israel? From time to time we need to wrestle with reality. Sometimes we deceive ourselves and think that if we know something (we can quote the verse etc.) that we are actually doing something"and that is not always true. Again, Ill go back to the question, What are you doing to bless Israel? It is to this question that we attempt to provide action steps as we present three Israeli ministries that need help!
Jerusalem Support Center (JSC)
The JSC is run by a Christian family"Michael, Gina and Jackie Utterback.
It has a threefold focus: the first is to provide new baby clothes and supplies for immigrant Russian mothers. So many who have made their aliyah from Russia have next to nothing, and the JSC has a vision to make sure every mother that leaves the hospital has a baby gift basket. Everyone in our group was encouraged to bring at least one outfit for a newborn and we were met at Ben Gurion by the JSC and they were overwhelmed by the gifts that poured in from our group"we filled the entire minivan with baby clothes!
A second pillar of this ministry is reaching out to Lone Soldiers. In Israel, serving in the IDF is mandatory for both men and women. Those who make their aliyah and whose parents remain outside of Israel are referred to as lone soldiers. The JSC offers a service that allows those interested to adopt a lone soldier and to provide financial support for their needs as well as opportunities to write or email. The JSC can also see to it that when you visit Israel, you will have an opportunity to meet your soldier during your trip.
The last tenet of this ministry is to provide basic vouchers for food, assistance with gas and electric bills, help with rent as well as bus passes. I can assure you that these saints are doers and I can highly recommend this ministry as a way to bless Israel today!
Hatzolah (Save Lives)
When thinking of Hatzolah, just remember the number 72! Hatzolah is a first response ministry that has as its goal to arrive at any emergency in Israel within 72 seconds! Whether it be an emergency baby delivery or responding to a suicide bombing, Hatzolah will arrive on the scene before Magen David Ambulances, providing medical service as a first-response ministry.
Hatzolah is a Jewish volunteer-based ministry that is one of the few that is supported by both secular and religious Jews alike"even the most Orthodox will serve, even if their pagers go off on Shabbat. The Torah allows for breaking the Sabbath in order to save a life!
Our group had the honor of visiting the Hatzolah head-quarters and was briefed by our good friend, Adi Zahavi. This organization has a variety of needs that range from bandages to defibrillators to motor scooters, which allow them to quickly navigate the congested streets of Jerusalem. During the war with Lebanon, my wife and I were able to provide a bulletproof vest for our friend as he went to assist victims of the war. This ministry offers you the opportunity to SAVE LIVES!
Israel Defense Forces
One thing we do at the end of our Israel Tours is to send out a questionnaire and one of the questions we ask is what the highlight of the trip was for that individual. We get a lot of different responses, but there is one item that is on just about everybodys list, and that has to do with the half day that we serve on an IDF base.
The work is menial, but the experience of serving is rewarding. After we serve we always have lunch with the soldiers on the base and it is here that our hearts are melded with the young men and women who are serving their country"most with a sense of purpose and destiny. We have found the conditions of the bases in drastic need of repair and many, after serving, want to do more. We are now making that a possibility. We have connections in Israel that will see to it that whatever money is donated will go directly to one of the bases we have served at, and it will be possible to set aside supplies that we can appropriate at our next visit.
Weve included a couple photos of our group at Battalion 603, which is located on the Golan. The photo below is of the Officers Barracks. Many of us would like to combine our resources to make a difference at the 603.
In conclusion, let me tell you about a Jewish friend of mine that I have known for the past five years. When we met again on this trip, my wife noticed something different about our friends demeanor... bottom line TRANSFORMATION! Our friend received Christ and the reason was because this person experienced love rather than words from Christians who looked for ways to bless Israel in tangible ways.